Last night, I went in to see You’re Not Like The Other Girls Chrissy at the Pleasance Courtyard. I had successfully scrunched myself up into a dark corner near the back where I can unobtrusively scribble, as I usually do. (There are, of course, those reviewers whose forte is instead to plonk themselves in the front row, press-pass flying high, legs akimbo, with mighty flourishes of the pen, craning forward on occasion as far as they can over the stage in search of further detail.)
Possibly falsely, I like to think I blend in with a minimum of distraction. (Although there was the time when an Edinburgh comic was working his way through the entire audience in search of interesting surnames. The spot caught me lurking and like a frozen rabbit I mumbled “Awde”. “Aha!” pounced the comic, “You’re a critic!” My response was neither professional nor sufficiently couth to reproduce here, but it brought the house down and, no doubt noting this, the comic referred to me as “Mr F*-Off” for the rest of the night. Thus warned, after the act so to speak, I now enter shows fearlessly armed with a pre-arranged (and confidential) pseudonym for use in similar occasions.)
Anyway, at the end of this engaging tale of a young Frenchwoman’s wait through the Second World War for her English fiancé, performed by Caroline Horton (a deserved nominee for ‘Best Solo Performance’ in last year’s Stage Awards for Acting Excellence), there was a palpable lump in the throat of every member of the packed Attic audience. As the lights came up, the elderly lady in the seat next-door dabs at her tears and, on seeing my notepad, asks kindly: “Are you a reviewer?” Rumbled. “Yes I am.” She smiles as she sniffs into her handkerchief: “Look at you! You must be the only one with a dry eye in the house. How do you do it?” “Madam,” I inform her gravely, “I may have the steely exterior of a hard-nosed critic but I assure you that inside I’m blubbing like the rest.” This was true, but I’m not so sure my newfound friend was in the least bit convinced at the surprise discovery that reviewers have hearts too.